Tuesday, June 25th, 2019
Nameday of Yannis, Yiannis, Giannis, Jannis, Yannos, Giannos, Giangos, Yangos, John, Jon, Ioannis, Jonathan

The Philly Greek-Stake Blog

The Other Greek Coffee

The Other Greek Coffee

Photo: Ben Cumming

Coffee… just that one word makes you think of that exquisite aroma that fills your nose when you put on a pot of that black gold. Coffee is a “pick-me-up,” a “let’s talk about it over a cup of coffee,” or “I need just a moment to myself,” beverage that the world over enjoys in various forms and brewing methods. It is thought that coffee was invented in the 13th Century, but may have been in use as far back as the 9th Century. It started out in and around Ethiopia and Yemen and then made its way around the world. Coffee was introduced in Brazil in 1727 and by 1930 Brazil was a major coffee producer. In the United States, coffee drinkers average 3.1 cups per day. It is a billion dollar business.

In the last decade, we have seen an explosion of coffee houses and different types of coffee. Some of the major chains include Starbucks which has cinnamon dolce lattes, salted caramel mocha, Frappuccinos, cappuccinos, and a bunch of other ones I can’t even pronounce, all served in tall cups, which are actually small cups in the real world, grande cups, which are medium, and venti, which is a large cup. Why can’t they just say small, medium and large? Would that work in a Greek diner? I like telling them I want a “small” coffee and they reply with, “you mean tall, sir” and I answer, “no, I mean small”. It irritates them but it is a small victory for the human race. Oh yeah, you need to take out a small loan to buy coffee at Starbucks. Starbucks coffee, however, simply taste burnt but the true Starbucks aficionados will lecture you that the taste is from using high quality coffee beans… sorry, it’s burnt, I know for a fact.

Now Wawa coffee is reasonably priced, and I usually drink that coffee, but they too have fallen into the trendy variety of coffee thing that is happening everywhere. They have Columbian, Hazelnut, Kona Blend, and Dark Roast. I just get the plain old 12 oz. regular – caffeinated, of course, black, no sugar. I like watching people coming in to get their large, 24 oz. coffee, then put in about a gallon of milk and a pound of sugar. Damn… that’s not coffee that’s an abomination. That’s like putting ketchup on a hot dog… no style.

Some people swear by Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. They too have lattes and other blends such as Cappaccino and Dunkaccino. Seems whenever you sell cappuccino, you just put your name in the beginning of it and you have a new product. So, if I open a coffee house, I can sell Karaccino – sounds good! Lol. When I was in college, my Mom worked at Dunkin’ Donuts so that is all we use to drink. After drinking my 3.1 cups per day for 4 years… it was time to change.

There are thousands of independent or small coffee houses. They sell their own brands and all try to be the “cool” coffee house, usually there’s fake jazz playing in the background (you musicians understand what I’m talking about) and some snot-nosed “artsy” type kid is making your coffee. He has nose rings, rings in his lips, eyebrows, and God-knows where else, a tattoo that in 20 years will look ridiculous, and wears a “Che” t-shirt. (Didn’t his parents or teachers ever explain to him that Che Guevara was a cold-blooded killer and torturer and not a so called freedom fighter that that lunatic Castro made him out to be? Go back to school and read your history, children, and don’t be stupid!)

My first memories of drinking coffee was when I was just a small tyke and Mom would make Greek coffee for Dad and any guests that were over the house (sorry, it’s Greek, not Turkish – but read my fellow blogger, Costa Xinos’ blog on that). I would sneak a sip or two and Mom would yell, “Harry (by now you know that you have to roll the ‘r’ when my Mother says my name), if you drink that you’ll grow a mustache!” Look at me… I must have had a lot of coffee as a kid. I guess Mom was right! She always was. As I got old enough to actually drink American coffee, it was the coffee that my Dad, and all my uncles, sold at their diners… Lacas Coffee. If you’re from the Tri-state area (Southeast Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware) and owned, worked, or ate at a Greek-owned diner, you had Lacas Coffee.

Lacas Coffee Company started in 1921 in Philadelphia and is still going strong today (they are now in Pennsauken, NJ). Although they too have many different blends, to keep up with the modern trend, back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s there was just good, no-frills, Lacas Coffee. Smooth, aromatic, full-body but not overpowering, balanced and clean. This is the coffee we grew up on – my generations energy drink. This is the coffee that we drank when we ate breakfast at the diner. This is the coffee we drank during a late night meeting with friends at the diner or studying for tests. This is the coffee we would take “to go” in those blue and white colored paper coffee cups with Ancient Greeks adorning the outside of the cup. This was a cup of real coffee.

The youth and young adults of today think they know coffee… they don’t. Good coffee is not iced. It’s not mixed with flavors. It’s not whipped or churned. And it’s not $2.60 a cup! Real coffee is Lacas Coffee and served at a diner, not a Starbucks, Wawa, Dunkin’ Donuts, or 7-11. Its’ the best damn real coffee in America and its made by Greeks! Yes, it’s the other Greek coffee.

So next time someone asks you if you want Greek coffee or American coffee, you answer, “Both”. Lacas coffee. It’s American coffee made by Greeks! God Bless them and all the diners and restaurants that sell it. Now go out and support your local Greek-owned businesses and get a cup of real coffee from your local diner and enjoy! Ahhh… I can smell it already.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid advertisement by Lacas Coffee – I just like to drink it, but if they want to throw a bag of coffee this way – no problem!

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1 Comment

  1. Dino Gatsoulas

    Very well written! I agree especially the part about Starbucks size names! The few times I have gone to Starbucks I got a kick out if the “Barista” asking me which flavor I want. My response. A large “Coffee” flavored! Lol. I have to admit that I am a sucker for Wawa’s columbian and lately their new lates. I have sold out and I now have a Kurig. The Kurig is very convenient. Truth is the best coffee is when I go to mom & dads and they make me “Ellinikos Cafee” “Thiplo Gloko” & that late night (or early morning) 2:30 am diner coffee after a DJ gig. For a short time I worked as a “Barista” at a friends small coffee house and I had Greek Coffee on the menu and we sold a few, mostly myself and friends/family. How long until Starbucks, Wawa etc add it to their menu? I agree with Harry, Lacas is fantastic coffee.

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